Recognition And Enforcement Of Decisions On Child Custody And Right Of Access

 

The enforcement of a decision on child custody and/or right of access in a foreign country requires usually the existence of an international treaty.

If a decision cannot be enforced in the foreign country, a parent may have to initiate new proceedings to obtain a decision on child custody or right of access.

It should be noted that the recognition of a decision, declaration of enforceability of a decision and the actual enforcement are three different issues.

Finnish decisions abroad

Whether a decision issued in Finland is recognised and enforced abroad depends on the foreign country in question.

Between the EU Member States, decisions are recognised without any special procedure.

An enforceable decision issued in Finland may, as a rule, be enforced also in another EU country. Before the enforcement, an exequatur is usually required. The provisions governing this are laid down in the Brussels II a Regulation.

There are arrangements in place to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of decisions between the Nordic countries, and usually the recognition and enforcement are possible without any separate declaration of enforceability.

Between the Contracting States of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children, decisions are recognised without any special procedure. The enforcement of a decision requires that the other state issue an exequatur.

If the target country is not a party to any international agreement, the recognition and enforcement of a decision depend on the national legislation of the country in question. In some cases, it is necessary to initiate new court proceedings in the foreign country.

Foreign decisions in Finland

The main principle is that foreign decisions on child custody and right of access are recognised and enforced in Finland.

Between the EU Member States, decisions are recognised without any special procedure. An enforceable decision issued in another EU Member State may, as a rule, be enforced in Finland. Before the enforcement, an exequatur is usually required. The provisions governing this are laid down in the Brussels II a Regulation.

There are arrangements in place to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of decisions between the Nordic countries, and usually the recognition and enforcement are possible without any separate declaration of enforceability.

Decisions issued in the Contracting States of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children are recognised in Finland without any special procedure. The enforcement of such a decision in Finland requires an exequatur. Helsinki District Court is responsible for dealing with these exequatur matters.

If a decision has been issued in a country that is not a party to any international agreement, the enforcement of a decision in Finland requires that Helsinki District Court first declare the decision enforceable.

Central Authority

The Central Authority does not, as a rule, have any duties concerning the recognition and enforcement of decisions. The Central Authority may, however, request for information on the legislation and procedures to be followed in the target country and, upon request and where possible, assist parties in finding advocates’ contact information.

The Central Authority does not transmit any applications. To receive legal advice possibly needed to be able to submit an application, the applicant must contact a legal aid office or an advocate.

Relevant legislation and treaties binding on Finland

Between the EU Member States (with the exception of Denmark), the Brussels II a Regulation is applied (Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000).

Further information: The text of the Regulation and the handbook on its application are available on the European e-Justice Portal.

Between the Nordic countries, the Nordic Marriage Convention is in force (Convention between Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark containing rules of private international law regarding marriage, adoption and guardianship, Treaty Series 20/1931).

In addition, the Convention between Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark on the recognition and enforcement of judgments concerning claims under private law (Treaty Series 56/1977) is applied between the Nordic countries.

Finland has also acceded to the Hague Child Protection Convention (Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, Treaty Series 9/2011).

Further information: A list of the Contracting States and other useful information are available on the website of the Hague Conference.

In addition to the agreements mentioned above, Finland has also acceded to the so-called Luxembourg Convention (European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children, Treaty Series 56/1994).

Related national legislation:

Act on Child Custody and Right of Access (361/1983)

Act on the Enforcement of a Decision on Child Custody and Right of Access (619/1996)

Act on the implementation of the provisions of a legislative nature of the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children and on the application of the Convention (435/2009).

The national legislation and the international treaties are available in Finlex Data Bank.